5 tips: How to choose the right workflow system?

The electronic document workflow is used in many different business areas. What to look for when selecting a solution in order to optimally use its functionalities?

The electronic document workflow is used in many different business areas. What to look for when selecting a solution in order to optimally use its functionalities?


There are numerous electronic document workflow systems available in the market, including the boxed version. However, not all solutions will work for any company. When choosing a system, remember that the software should be adaptable to the needs of your organization, not vice versa.

In particular, bigger companies have processes so complex and complicated that out-of-the-box workflow solutions are not always able to meet business expectations. A perfect example is the cost invoice workflow that can include many stages and require engagement of employees from different levels in the organization. In such cases, the key is to precisely reproduce the process in the system.

Although some out-of-the-box solutions have very extended functionalities, these functions will not always be the ones necessary for a given company.

Development opportunities

Each organization changes, develops and adapts to the evolving business environment. An electronic document workflow system should follow the company in this process and enable flexible modification of functionalities and applications according to current needs. What works for an organization today may require a major change in 2 years.

The company that implemented an electronic document workflow in the HR area, e.g. for the workflow of holiday requests or other HR documents, may over time feel the need to also use this solution for other departments. A well selected system should enable smooth implementation of this change.

Short implementation time

Decision to implement an electronic document workflow is made most often when business feels the very urgent need to improve the information flow. Therefore, the company expects the shortest possible solution deployment time.

The time to implement complex and tailored systems may be very long. There are however solutions available in the market based on RAD (rapid application development) methodology that enables significant time reduction for both application implementation process and its subsequent modification. It allows you to adapt the software to your company’s needs and to introduce changes also without the necessity to start programming work and engage the IT department. In this model, some modifications may be performed by the system user alone, such as adding new document category or another step to the process. Some changes do not require tests and are visible in the system right away.

Easy integration with other systems

Most companies implementing workflow use at least several different information systems: ERP, CRM, financial and accounting or HR software. Integration that enables data exchange between applications, is one of the main functions of solutions from the electronic document workflow area. However, not always is such integration easy to achieve or does it take into account the organization’s specific conditions. This may be the case with capital groups which want to use the electronic document workflow from one central platform.

When implementing a workflow, consider flexibility and ease of its integration process. The company may want to be able to introduce changes rapidly.

Licence is not the only cost

The purchase of software itself is not the whole investment necessary to implement an electronic document workflow. Already when selecting a solution, you should take into account also the cost of implementation and subsequent system modifications. In case of complex processes or high frequency of introduced changes, software maintenance may appear to be much more expensive than its purchase.

In order to meet customers’ expectations, manufacturers of systems offer functionalities that make their implementation and maintenance easier. There are solutions available in the market that include e.g. graphic creators of business processes which enables their mapping in the application without coding. In the long perspective, such a system may be cheaper than an application in which each operation requires help from programmers.

Adam Kubat, Head of IT Systems ArchiDoc, OEX Group